What are the Dems thinking?
South Carolina, first primary state? Consider Connecticut
Democratic Party officials apparently want to reward South Carolina for being one of the reddest states in the union. They want to elbow aside other states to make South Carolina the first votes to be counted in the Democratic nominating process for president, shoving aside Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. This would be like the Republican Party making liberal Massachusetts the first state to vote for a Republican nominee for president.
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No Democrat holds statewide office in South Carolina. Both houses of the legislature are overwhelmingly Republican. The state’s two U.S. senators are Republican, as are six of seven House members.
The state’s most prominent Democratic elected official is Rep. James Clyburn, the lone South Carolina congressman and the man whose endorsement was famously responsible for salvaging Joe Biden’s failing presidential campaign in 2020. Then, South Carolina was the fourth primary. Biden had lost Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The win in South Carolina brought Biden’s campaign back to life. He never looked back.
Political debts must be paid. But, honestly, couldn’t Biden have been content with making Jamie Harrison national Democratic Party chairman? He did this soon after Harrison lost his U.S. Senate race to that Trump boot-licker, the singularly awful South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham. Harrison managed to blow through a mind-boggling $130 million and still lost the election by a staggering 10 percent.
Proponents point out that Black voters are the most loyal voting group in the Democratic Party and Blacks make up 26.7 percent of South Carolina’s population. It has galled many, with good reason, that the two states that are among the whitest in the country, Iowa and New Hampshire, have for years been the first to cast ballots. The demographics of those two states are out of sync with the minority population in the country. Very true.
But by this one measure, South Carolina, with far more minorities than all but three states and the District of Columbia, also does not reflect the rest of the nation.
So I have a different first state to nominate. America, I give you the blue state that I call home: Connecticut.
It’s true that I once joked that the state should have signs at the boarder which said, “You are entering Connecticut. Please wear pearls.” It was my working-class swipe at the white-wine-and-brie set that dominates the wealthier areas bordering New York State.
But those areas dramatically skew the income levels of the vast majority of the state’s population who, like me, live far from well-heeled Fairfield County. This Connecticut county borders New York and Long Island Sound and is a bi-partisan magnet for politicians from across the country who swarm there to raise money. Trust me: Nobody comes to my town, which has more cows than people, to raise anything except corn.
But I digress.
Here’s a census chart comparing Connecticut with the country as a whole as well as Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. In all but income, Connecticut reflects the demographics of America more than South Carolina. The chart doesn’t measure this, but Connecticut reflects American even in its shortcomings - the stark and shameful contrast between wealth and poverty. Of all the struggling cities in America, three in Connecticut are among the poorest: Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven. It isn’t something to be proud of. But there are more layers of complexity In Connecticut than meets the eye.
In many ways the state is a mirror of the United States.
The U.S. population is 13.6 percent Black. Connecticut is 12.7 percent Black.
In the U.S., 89 percent of the population has a high school degree. In Connecticut, it’s 91 percent.
In the U.S., 11.6 percent of the population is in poverty. In Connecticut, it’s just over 10 percent.
People who speak a language other than English at home make up 21.7 percent of the U.S. population. In Connecticut, it’s 22.3 percent.
Best of all, Connecticut is compact and easy for campaigns to crisscross. Although its population ranks in the middle of all the states at 3.6 million, it’s the third smallest state in the country in land area. I can drive across the Connecticut from the border of Rhode Island to the border of New York in a little over two hours.
The state’s statewide offices are filled with Democrats; the legislature is majority blue and both U.S. senators and five House members are Democrats.
Here is my last argument: Our voter participation rates.
Connecticut is one of just a handful of Luddite states where voting takes place on one day, and one day only, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. There’s no regular early voting here. No Saturday or Sunday voting. (It’s in the process of being changed.) Despite that maddening limitation, the voter participation rates in Connecticut are high. In the 2020 presidential election, it was 79.7 percent and in the 2022 election, just under 58 percent. In South Carolina, with TWO WEEKS to cast ballots. 72 percent voted in the presidential race in 2020 and about 51 percent voted in 2022.
And — have I mentioned this? Republicans, not Democrats, swept the offices in South Carolina.
I rest my case.
I completely agree with you! And, I live in SC.
Who knew CT wasn't one of the wealthiest, whitest states? I didn't. Thanks for the education, Maura!